Daily program: March

Date information01-31 March
Check session times below
Location informationArc Cinema and NFSA Theatrette
Event costFREE (no booking required)

In March we take you on a journey through the spectacular world of cinematic special effects. We look at landmarks of film trickery – from Georges Méliès to Australia’s Animal Logic. These programs are free, change regularly and require no bookings. Drop in for a few minutes or a few hours and let us surprise you with treasures from the NFSA collection. Once you’ve had your fill, cross over to our Theatrette for Buried Country, an archival musical treat.

Please note: the Arc cinema program is sometimes unavailable to allow for the testing of special collection materials. Please contact Reception on 02 6248 2000 if you would like to confirm details before your visit. 



Arc Cinema (Monday to Friday)

10:00am - 12:00pm

Session 1 - The very first special effects

The Story of the Kelly Gang (1906, D: Charles Tait, 16 mins)

In 1906, Australia produced The Story of the Kelly Gang, arguably the world’s first commercial feature-length fiction film. Shot on location outside Melbourne, the film traces the life of the legendary Australian bushranger, Ned Kelly. Originally running at over 60 minutes when it premiered in Melbourne, it went on to thrill audiences across the country and then worldwide. Like the majority of early Australian cinema, much of the original film has been lost. However, in 2006 thanks to some fortunate discoveries and meticulous restoration work by the NFSA, nearly a quarter of this extraordinary film was pieced together and digitally restored by Haghefilm preservation laboratories in Amsterdam, for contemporary and future generations to enjoy.


A Trip to the Moon (1902, G, France, D: Georges Méliès, 13 mins)

This spectacular fantasy from the very earliest days of cinema is the most famous example of Méliès’ pioneering genius.


The Lost Son (1974, G, Germany, D: Lotte Reiniger, 14 mins)
 Unlike much of Reiniger’s work, this short tale with a biblical bent is a gorgeous ‘shadow play’ rather than a silhouette frame-by-frame animation.


The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926, G, Germany, D: Lotte Reiniger, 71 mins)

This is the earliest surviving animated feature and is also pioneering animator Lotte Reiniger's most extraordinary work. Reiniger developed a highly sophisticated silhouette animation technique inspired by Chinese shadow theatre. Intricate hand-cut silhouettes were combined with shimmering backgrounds created with wax and sand set on back lit glass. Colour-tinting further enhanced the luminous effect.

With special thanks to the Goethe-Institut.


12:00pm - 2:00pm

Session 2 - DIY!

Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959, PG, USA, D: ED Wood, 80 mins) + Méliès shorts

This cult classic, originally titled Grave Robbers from Outer Space, was written, produced, directed and edited by Ed Wood, commonly referred to as the worst director of all time. Due to the low budget, the crew employed do-it-yourself special effects. Plan 9 has been often criticised (and celebrated) for its hackneyed special effects such a flying saucer seen flying above a graveyard. A visual oddity that has to be seen to be believed.

Followed by the Méliès shorts A Trip to the Moon and The Kingdom of the Fairies (see above for more information).


2:00pm - 4:00pm

Session 3 - Animal Logic

Happy Feet (2006, PG, Australia, D: George Miller, 108 mins)

This joyous and original family film was produced at Sydney-based visual effects and animation studio Animal Logic. The film won an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature when it was released. The film was inspired by director George Miller's encounter with a veteran cameraman during the shooting of Mad Max 2, who described Antarctica as a spectacular wasteland.


Theatrette (Monday, Thursday and Friday only)

Sessions: 9.15am, 11.15am, 1.15pm, 3.15pm

Buried Country (2000, PG, Australia. D: Andy Nehl, 74 mins)

Where black Americans turned to the blues, Indigenous Australians found inspiration in country and western and created a style of their own. Buried Country traces six decades of this rich cultural tradition. It uses rare recordings and historic images, and first-hand interviews with singers and songwriters from Jimmy Little to contemporary country music star Troy Cassar-Daley. The result is a poignant record of Indigenous Australia and a celebration of how music can lift the human spirit.

A Film Australia National Interest Program. Produced in association with SBS Independent. © 2011 National Film and Sound Archive of Australia.

This film is also available from our online shop.


Australian Biography: Jimmy Little (1998, Exempt from classification, 26 mins)

Aboriginal singer Jimmy Little talks about what stardom meant for a boy from the bush and the profound impact that his Aboriginal heritage has had on his life and, more recently, his music.

A Film Australia National Interest Program. Made in association with SBS TV. © 2011 National Film and Sound Archive of Australia.

This film is also available from our online shop.

WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that these programs may contain images and voices of deceased persons.